When I was little, my dad started keeping aquarium tropical fish as a hobby. I have lots of memories of going to the fish specialty shop which felt a million miles away. Now that I think back on it, it was probably a forty-five minute drive, but it seemed like a long way away when I was little. While Dad went to look at the half of the store that housed the tropical fish, I went to the corner with the goldfish.
Dad had a forty-five gallon tank that housed the usual angelfish, mollies, gouramis, neon tetras, and so forth. Andrew and I had that same tank in our house for years. Within the past few months, it sprang a leak, leading to a fun-filled night of towels, hurriedly transferring fish to a smaller aquarium we set up in our kitchen, and wet carpet. (It was a very slow leak, and Andrew noticed it quickly. It could have been much, much, much worse.) We have since bought a new tank, but it was hard for me to throw away the old one. It was Dad's.
I got my love of fish from him. I wanted to be different than him, so I always bought goldfish. I always had a bowl or a tank in my bedroom. When I went to college, I had a small tank. I had a tank on my desk when I worked at the UU church, and I've had a tank at home for years and years.
My first goldfish at the church was named Freeman after James Freeman, the father of Unitarianism in America. When he passed away after a couple years, I bought Murray, named after John Murray, the father of Universalism in America.
Murray came home to live in a tank with Koina when I came back to work at the synagogue in 2006. When Koina passed away, I was afraid to put another fish in with Murray. He was already quite old for a goldfish, and I didn't want to introduce some new disease that might do him in.
Last night Murray looked sick. The scales on the top of his head had come off, and he wouldn't eat. This morning he was gone. He will have a water burial tonight. I know that he lived a very long time for a goldfish, but it was still sad to see him go.
Having fish is a connection to my dad, a guy who made it difficult to connect. My appreciation for the beauty of fish is an appreciation he had as well. There are lots of traits of Dad's that I'm grateful aren't mirrored in my life, but I'm glad we shared this.
I think I'll go buy another goldfish. Rest in Peace, Murray. Thanks for the memories.